Depression is a battle we can all fight together

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Many of the funniest people in life are the most depressed. Therein lies the paradox.

Not often does the death of a celebrity put me at such unrest, but this week’s passing of Robin Williams hit me like two tons of bricks. As someone who values comedy and its role in society, I cannot help but be heartbroken that someone who played so many characters that I have been inspired by has left the stage for good.

Many of the funniest people in life are the most depressed. Therein lies the paradox.

Not often does the death of a celebrity put me at such unrest, but this week’s passing of Robin Williams hit me like two tons of bricks. As someone who values comedy and its role in society, I cannot help but be heartbroken that someone who played so many characters that I have been inspired by has left the stage for good.

But this is not a testament to him. Nor is it an obituary or a life summary. Many media outlets will meticulously and arguably intrusively cover his life and death. People will examine his life with a fine-toothed comb and we will come to know more than we do and in many cases, more than we want to.

While his work is extensive and worthy of praise, the big picture here is something even he would not be able to make me laugh about. Depression. This illness is one that does not play favorites. It affects the poor and the wealthy, the everyday person and the famous.

We often become attached to these people, to the point we feel as if we are apart of their life. To hear anyone close to you has passed is difficult and to hear that they may have taken their own life is mortifying. Depression is just now becoming more accepted as a genuine mental illness, but many still face the negative stigma. People need to know it is not a choice. No amount of money can buy happiness. It is one of the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. and not just here. It is an international issue.

Around 80 percent of those with depression do not seek treatment and people die every day. The deaths of celebrities are a face for millions that fight the same battle. While we may not be able to recover ones we have lost, we should fight not to lose any more.

A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with depression. To add to the weight that was dragging me down, I felt no one who could understand how I felt. I did not share the information with many of my family or friends because of my own misconceptions and fear of being stereotyped. The scary thing with depression is it is easy to hide thoughts. It is simpler to just avoid people and to pretend as if you are fine. Sharing my situation is easier if it helps others to recognize and understand what they feel can be helped and it is no laughing matter.

I feel like a broken record always coming back to the importance of education, but it truly makes a better society and a better person. People need to learn about disorders and their effect on the body. Those who say, “it’s all in your head” are right to an extent. There are real chemical imbalances that occur in the brain. But to imply the way someone is feeling is made up is cruel. Many will experience depression in their lifetime, some more severe cases than others. People need to exercise compassion, not ignorance.

It is normal to feel down and to feel sad. If the feeling happens more often than not, or to severe levels, people need to know they can contact a doctor. There are many clinics that will help to diagnose and treat disorders. Ignoring the problem is not conducive to good health. It will only make it worse. Efficiency is improving in the mental health department and there are more and more options for those with low income as well.

Depression is an affliction that will not go away in the foreseeable future. Death certainly will not. There are deaths that can be avoided though and each life is one worth saving.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

Depression is a battle we can all fight together

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